In the Service of the Philippine Population

In the Service of the Philippine Population

VOL. XVIII  NO. 3 (October 25-31, 2014)

In public service, if public servants who are in power from the legislative to the executive to the local government units are giving back their true responsibility to their constituents, the Philippines would not be like this.

This is the stance of the Commission on Population-CAR Director Rose Fortaleza who believes that public service is for the public if you are in the government by returning to the people what is expected from you. “Nobody is perfect,” she said Unfortunately some but not most public servants do their best, but even so, still some of these public servants are carried away by the system gradually, their views change so that the public should also do their share to change the system if it goes crooked. It’s the heart that is given and not the vote. Be a model for others, she added.

Ms. Rose Fortaleza has been with POP COM-CAR for three years now who was previously assigned at Region 3 and Region 5. She is from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.  She is a teacher by profession majoring in English and Mathematics from Christ the King College in Calbayog, Samar. She has a Masters in Rural Development Population Studies. She is currently taking her Doctor’s in Leadership in Management at Saints Dominic University in Quezon City.

An educator by profession, she taught for three years in a high school right after graduating form College. She applied and was hired at POP COM as a research assistant in 1978. Then as a research assignment. Here, she has done research regarding family planning and directly submitted them to the office of the Chief Division who handles clinic services on family planning method and gave directions on target such as achieving population growth and what kind of components do they have. She also looked into implications of the researches and partnered with research institutions. One of her research but was not pushed through was the herbal method such as the use of gumamela and hair of corn indigenously with the University of the Philippines Manila as family planning method. Although the herbal method was on the process and was tested that they have contraceptive effects and that fertility was declined, it did not push through because of lack of funds.

Before becoming the director for POP-COM CAR, Ms. Fortaleza served as a planning officer in CAR from 1994-1997. In mid 1997 she served as a technical division of population CAR. She also worked as an Administrative Officer 5 at the Central office in Manila after which she served in the information division for two years and finally as a Regional Director for POP COM-CAR.

For a short period of time, she worked in a private environment in PRISM, a private company under the US administration in Bulacan as a coordinator for four months but she preferred to go back and worked in the government sector. “Your environment is wider and you are not pressured that much to achieve targets and commitment at the end of the year. You have leeway. In a private company, you have to give back the hours that you are being paid. You have to do everything that you may lose your love of work.

As a Regional Director, Ms. Fortaleza is mandating PD 79 which contains the overall coordinating planning policy making and agency monitoring on population. She coordinates the program with other agencies such as policy’s researching, analyzing, and directing of the plan. The PD 79 is the Bible of population program. It contains the six year plan term that is incorporated in the Philippine’s medium term plan as part of the government’s programs. This policy changes as Presidents also are being changed. She also coordinates programs on advocacy, data, and information management resource.

“I Love working at POP COM. I love the challenges in terms of personal administration and the human aspect of the organization. It is motivating and leads me to achieve more. I introduce innovations and go outside of the box even if there are directions coming from the top; I have the freedom to make changes not affecting our targets for the region. According to my staff, she always tells them that there are many ways to do things and its up to them to know those best that could be brought out by thinking more. Every day is a challenge because you have to do more than you have performed the past week,’’ said Ms. Fortaleza.

As far as working rapport with her colleagues is concerned, they are nice to work with. They like their job and they blend with each other well. “We’re glad we just went to rationalization last year so we are fortunate to have hired new people new blood and as far as the office is concerned, we have the right people both the old and neophytes are smart in the way they think and plan. We train for local government assistance and advocacy materials. It’s happy working in the Cordilleras. I love working with them since I was assigned here before. My second child graduated at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City.

For 35 years of working with the Commission on Population, Ms. Fortaleza has accumulated experiences in terms of program operation which she sees as an advantage. There are ins and outs of the organization because she works as a technical person and an administrator overseeing people and logistics and these do not change. She works with different people and sees their differences and manages them. In an organization, it has it its ups and downs but Ms. Fortaleza was able to build up analytical systems on how to face problems both in the organization and her staff.” I love studying because I want to keep my mind working. You go to school; you are with young people and a different environment. Regardless of age, acquiring more knowledge is letting your mind function and it’s a part of life. It gives flavor to existing knowledge thus adding know hows on handling things.
Ms Fortaleza has been a recipient of studies abroad on a one year scholarship in India on a population studies. Here she studied the country’s conservative culture and their religion. She got with her learning of what other countries are doing that we can’t do do. She was also sent to East-West Center, in Hawaii, in Thailand, in Malaysia and all the regions in the Philippines where she used the knowledge obtain from these countries to her job. She also worked at the central office that was funded by a foreign agency named UNFPA where she was assigned as the director of the project of program on population development in twenty provinces in the Philippines. Here, she met different people from the influential to the grassroots and their communities and the consultants form the national and international level. She learned how to be a consultant for them.
Ms. Fortaleza loves to sing over the karaoke after office as a stress reliever. She loves dancing ballroom, read books on love stories and novels by Sheldon of investigative and romantic novels and she loves series such as CSI, Face Book and Google for information. She loves food with gata or coconut milk chocolates, and small fishes.”I have to buy every time I see small fishes,” she said. She also joins aerobics at Burnham Park.
The commission on Population is an important agency to learn about population. It is an international commitment and is a signatory which installs agreement that each country should have a population program. As of July 2014, the Philippines’ has approximately one million populations.” The projection was computed using the 2010 census population and the growth rate from 2002-2010. The statistical formula is used by demographers and the national statistics office and it is scientifically accurate. The project is held between five and ten years before a census is made.

“There are two things to be considered in the study of population, they are the population size and population growth rate,” said Ms Fortaleza. In this, the church and the state has an informed choice of family planning since we do not coerce. We don’t enforce methods since everything still depends on the couples but we want them to have access of the services through right information and government responsibility. We do not endorse abortion since it’s illegal in the Philippines. We adhere to human rights; reproductive rights; and constitutional rights of couples responsibilities. We respect the church on family planning method. The services of the government on contraceptives have no controversy since all contraceptives are scrupulously studied by the BFAD and the DOH and that everything is ok with no side effects. We work with interfaith,” explained Ms. Fortaleza.

The approval of the Reproductive Health is done by the government and the DOH. These are to strengthen the implementation with availability of services with specific allocations; education components for different clients and agencies; and the implementation of existing programs. The stand of the government is to manage population from a rational point of view since the resources’ of the country and its population has its own responsibilities and that the two are given of with equal opportunities. The resources are usually difficult to reach the marginalized and underprivileged people because the poor families have usually the most number of children. And health centers are scarce and family planning is poorly relayed to term. Even if the country is populous but if poverty is rampant then quality of life for all Filipinos are not sustained and the effects to the environment is heavy.”We want to make every Filipino a steward of the environment. With the population ballooning, carrying capacity of a place and saturation point is heavy and is above the rehired population. Consequences are that traffics, squatters, garbage, floods and housing problems among others mushroom,” said Ms Fortaleza.

As of 2014 the accomplishments of the Commission on Population-CAR under the component programs of the Philippine Population management Program on Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program are as follows:
Launching and roll out of the 101XSX: 101 Ways to become an Empowered youth is an interactive social movement campaign aimed at bringing in commitments and messages of the youth for themselves in the fight against risky sexual and non-sexual behaviors. With an active online presence with its own website 101xsx.com and on social media platforms like facebook and youtube. The campaign has also developed digital advocacy materials like its teenage pregnancy animated infomercial and Sureteen Teenage fertility tracking mobile application. Both materials are to be officially launched by the coming year.

The national U4U teen Trail initiative also put under the 101XSX campaign has reached 1081 youth, one of the highest outputs in the country.  Teen trails have been conducted in Baguio City, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Benguet with target activities to be done in Abra and Kalinga before the end of the year.
Together with provincial launches of the 101XSX campaign the teen trail has also trained more than a hundred teen facilitators who were equipped with proper knowledge on addressing concerns for adolescent reproductive health, sexuality and youth development.

Improved partnerships with both private and public institutions like UNFPA, Center for Health Services Innovation, LuzonHealth and LGUs is mobilizing joint resources for bringing Adolescent Health services to grassroots areas.

1.Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program (RP-FP)
Complete staff work in field monitoring and data collection on unmet need for Family Planning covering all provinces and cities in the region.

In-house Development of offline database systems for reporting and profiling of couples in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the Responsible Parenthood Movement.

Training of more than 200 Barangay Population Volunteers for Ifugao Province to assist in profiling of families and conduct of RP-FP classes.

Development of a localized campaign called Men Tako to increase Male involvement on Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning. Considering Indigenous cultures in the region concerned with family values and issues of Cordilleran men.

Around 7000 couples reached and profiled in terms of unmet needs for family planning and participated in FDS and RP-FP Classes. All profiles are encoded on the National RP-FP Database of PopCom and accessible for partners and LGUs.

2.Population and Development
Training of teachers from both private and public schools in the provinces of Apayao and Benguet of the new PopDevEd modules. In partnership with Philippine Center for Population and Development, LuzonHealth, DepEd and local government units of Kabugao, Conner, Luna, Pudtol, Sta Marcela, Flora all in Apayao and Mankayan in Benguet.  Trained 170 elementary and secondary teachers on Population and Development modules to be integrated into the new k-12 curriculum.

PPMP and POPDEV Orientations.The RPO, in partnership with the City Population Offices of Baguio City and La Trinidad conducted a one-day orientation on the PPMP and POPDEV Integration with more than 300 barangay officials attended.  This was funded by the LGU and the RPO provided technical assistance.

·Continued provision of technical assistance ( as trainers, facilitators, resource persons)  to LGU-initiated activities in the areas of data and information management,  gender and development, peer education,  POPDEV integration, responsible parenthood and family planning, etc.

The Regional Director has been assigned as the National Director for Gender and Development, in charge at overseeing all aspects of GAD implementation across all component programs of PopCom.

The Commission on Population caters to every Filipino regardless of religion, culture, beliefs including those of the Muslims, indigenous peoples, age specific population, teenagesr, and adults. It has programs on gender and development and gender issues involving women and men on their working environment. It addresses trainings, gender analysis and gender responsiveness. / Ezequiel Banas-e